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Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl Book Poster Image
Exciting graphic novel blends two popular series.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Fantasy meant to entertain, but author's note in the back tells some background about creating the series and characters, and lots of illustrations show how the characters changed over a long design process.

Positive Messages

No matter how hard you try to do what's right, things can still go wrong somehow. But you have to keep trying to do something because when you stop trying, things only get worse. All you can do is make the best choice in the moment you're facing. Causing violence, pain, and dividing people from each other, even in the hopes some good will come of it, doesn't work.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jack, Lilly, Maddie, Zita, and Joseph are all brave, strong, loyal, clever, and resourceful. The work well together and also let their individual strengths shine when needed. Adult friends and family, and plenty of fantasy-world creatures, are fully behind Jack, Zita, and the rest of the kids in their efforts to save the world. Most villains are fantasy creatures, except for some federal-agent-type bad guys who have Piper and Madrigal on the run.

Violence & Scariness

Lots of action, peril, and scary fantasy creatures. Fantasy violence is mostly fights with magical abilities and weapons as well as swords, clubs, and explosives. In the fantasy realm one creature kicks another who's on the ground in the stomach and punches him in the jaw. In the real world, lots of seeming federal agents point guns at two people and threaten to make them "disappear." One agent holds a man's arms back while another punches him in the stomach. There's a battle with hordes of fantasy-creature skeletons and armies of giants trying to conquer Earth. A central character shoves another and briefly chokes her.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl is a graphic novel that brings together two popular series by Ben Hatke that blend fantasy and sci-fi elements into one. The story stands pretty well on its own, but newcomers may have trouble at first figuring out who is who. Reading the original two individual series first will deepen understanding of the characters and appreciation of appearances from old friends. Several story lines and friendships that are getting complicated make it best for big kids and up. There are lots of scary monsters and fantasy creatures, characters are frequently in danger, and some real-world violence shows officials punching a captive in the stomach. Other fantasy violence includes battles with skeleton monsters and the ogre-like giants trying to invade Earth. All the kids are good role models, especially for teamwork, bravery, and loyalty. Messages are positive about continuing to try to do your best and make the best decisions you can, even when things go wrong.

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What's the story?

When giants threaten to take over Earth and destroy humans once and for all, MIGHTY JACK AND ZITA THE SPACEGIRL, along with their motley assortment of family and friends, will face their toughest challenge yet. Piper's been captured and thrown in jail, but he manages to get them a message that the only way to defeat the giants is to enlist the help of the elves of Alfheim. Maddie summons the dragon Phelix to open a portal for them, and the heroes find themselves in the In Between. Finding the entrance to Alfheim might seem impossible, but fortunately the goblins are as loyal as ever to Lilly, Joseph's still got his magic cape, and Zita's found a new jump crystal. Can the gang back on Earth hold the giants off long enough for the heroes to gather an army capable of defeating the giants once and for all?

Is it any good?

This bringing together of author and illustrator Ben Hatke's two popular graphic novel franchises is sure to please fans who've eagerly awaited more adventures for Jack and Zita. They'll also be delighted to see how Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl brings together so many old friends from both series. Drawing this time on elements of Norse mythology, Hatke's lively, colorful illustrations propel the action and keep the pages turning while the sometimes funny, sometimes poignant dialog rounds out the story and makes the characters believable.

If you haven't read either the Jack or the Zita series, it might take a while to figure out who's who. Hatke doesn't spend much time establishing characters here, and the cast is a big one. Speaking of characters, a lot of delight comes from minor, oddball characters like the robots, the goblins, and an oddball pair of pipe dwellers who all add charm and humor to the cast. Multiple story lines, scary fantasy creatures and intense action make it best for big kids and up.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl. Was anything too scary for you, or did it make the story more exciting? What makes you feel better when you're scared? 

  • What do you like about Jack, Zita, and their friends? Who's your favorite character? What do you like about them?

  • What do you like or love about graphic novels? What are some of your favorites? What kinds of stories make good graphic novels?

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Themes & Topics

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For kids who love graphic novels and science fiction

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